Editor’s Note: The original post was published by the Louis. B Brandeis Center.
On January 3, 2016, the newly formed group, “Oberlin Alumni Against Anti-Semitism” denounced a recent trend of anti-Semitic and anti-Israel acts on Oberlin’s campus, in a letter to Oberlin President Marvin Krislov. Oberlin College, a small private school in northern Ohio, has a long history of peaceful political activism, but as the Boycotts, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel has became more active on campus, this activism has turned into attacks and threats.
Dr. Melissa Landa, a 1986 graduate of Oberlin College, established the group after being the victim of anti-Semitism, and speaking with other students and alumni who had similar experiences. Dr. Landa was personally attacked on two online forums by pro-BDS Oberlin alumni and students. According to a January 13 press release, “they called me a Zionist cultist who is responsible for the deaths of innocent Palestinians, simply because I expressed my support for Israel,” Dr. Landa explained. “Experiencing the aggressive and dogmatic nature of the BDS movement for myself allowed me to empathize with Jewish students who are being bullied on campus and I wanted to do something about it.”
The Oberlin Alumni Against Anti-Semitism group welcomes a diversity of views on Israel and criticism of its policies, however, they do not agree with the finger pointing and demonization of the Jewish State. The letter recounts incidents that current and past Oberlin students have been involved with, causing some to transfer and many to believe that there is a “toxic climate around Israel” on campus. The Oberlin Alumni Against anti-Semitism group called for the college administration to comply with three requests, including a thorough investigation of acts of anti-Semitism on campus, an open forum for students who want to share their experiences with anti-Semitism, and the creation of a task force to implement a plan to address the current crisis.
The Brandeis Center will continue to support the fight against anti-Semitism at Oberlin and all college campuses. We look forward to hearing more from the Oberlin Alumni Against Anti-Semitism, and encourage the Oberlin administration and community to create a more accepting environment for Jewish students, pro-Israel students, and all students on their campus.
Photo by Onasill ~ Bill Badzo